Ex-Sunderland defender Steph Houghton reacts after England captaincy decision

Leah Williamson has been described as a “very deserving and driven leader” by Steph Houghton after being named as England captain for this summer’s home Euros.

England coach Sarina Wiegman during a training session at St. George's Park, Burton. PA.
England coach Sarina Wiegman during a training session at St. George's Park, Burton. PA.

Arsenal’s Williamson has been wearing the armband under Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman in the injury-enforced absence of Manchester City defender Houghton, who had skippered England since 2014.

Houghton is facing a race to be fit for the Euros after undergoing Achilles surgery. The tournament gets under way with Wiegman’s side facing Austria at Old Trafford on July 6.

Following the Football Association’s announcement about Williamson on Tuesday, Houghton posted a message on Twitter paying tribute to the 25-year-old, and also stressing that “I don’t feel my England story is complete”.

Houghton said: “It has been the greatest honour and privilege to captain my country for the last eight years. I have been fortunate to lead the team to three major competition semi-finals and a bronze medal at the 2015 World Cup.

“Whilst the targets were always to win the tournaments, I will always have immense pride in how we played, competed and how much we achieved.

“The past 12 months have been very difficult from a football perspective in trying to overcome a number of injuries. Sarina and the England staff have been hugely supportive but with the injuries, I understand and respect Sarina’s decision to name a new captain.

“The captaincy is being passed on to a very deserving and driven leader in Leah Williamson, with all the attributes an England captain needs to be successful and I have no doubt she will be.

“I will give my total support to Leah and will be there for her, with any help and advice she may need.

“For me, I don’t feel my England story is complete and I continue to work hard with my rehabilitation in trying to make the squad for this summer’s home European Championship.

“I am available for selection when fit and look forward to putting on an England shirt again.”

Williamson said in a video posted on England’s Twitter account: “I think it’s the biggest honour in football. To even have my name associated with it is very, very special and something I will never take for granted.

“Sarina called me in just before lunch yesterday. She told me her plans and (asked) if I wanted to step into the role and I laughed – a nervous laugh. She doesn’t make it a massive thing and I like it that way. Obviously, I accepted.

“Steph’s led the team to the position we’re in now, amongst the best in the world, and I think the legacy she has left behind is tough footsteps to follow in. I hope that I do the armband and the shirt proud and live up to the standards set.”

Wiegman said in a statement from the FA: “This decision gives us continuity at this important final period as we build towards the tournament. It is important we give everyone clarity at this stage.

“Leah has been a great leader for us and I know she will continue to set the example we need in her work on and off the pitch.”